The Hague

Naked tram rails (Or: A look at tram 16’s construction)

This year the tram tracks for tram 16 are being re-done to allow for the new Avenio tram (htm.nl, in English). The Avenio tram is wider so almost the entire track needs to be re-done to accommodate this.

This area is not far from the Buitenhof / Hofvijfer / Dutch parliament. You can see the parliament buildings in the background on the right side. Due to the construction tram 16 is currently taking the route of tram 1 on its way to Statenkwartier. You can read more about the construction over at denhaag.nl in English. The end of the route, Statenkwartier, will be tackled in the second half of this year. At that point tram 16 will ride over the route of tram 3 for part of its journey. The expectation is that everything will be done by March 2023.

For the most part I am a fan of Avenio trams, especially as they are level with the ground so you don’t need to go up or down a few stairs like you do with the old trams. (That came in handy once when I bought something heavy. Distance wise I could have easily walked home but due to how heavy it was I decided to take one of the Avenio trams to get closer to my house.) It is of course also helpful if you have a stroller or luggage.

The only thing I don’t like about the Avenio trams is that both sides are two seaters. The old trams are a bit narrower and have 2 seaters on the left side and single seaters on the right. When I am traveling alone I always go for a single seat or I stand.

The color of the Avenio tram (omroepwest.nl in Dutch) will slowly be changing from red-black to white-red between now and the end of 2023. As each tram comes in for maintenance it will be updated. I did see one in the wild already last month but I didn’t have time to take a photo. The Hague’s public transportation company HTM is doing this because it is easier to see white-red than it is black-red, so it is a bit safer for traffic.

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Changing of the flags (Or: The end of the Invictus Games)

The Hague was host to the 2020 Invictus Games (English Wikipedia) last month. Like so many things, it was postponed for two years due to Covid-19. The Invictus Games are for injured, wounded or ill military personnel (active or veteran). It ran from April 16 through April 2022 with about 500 athletes from 17 countries competing.

I noticed today that they were taking down the Invictus Games flags from the Buitenhof:

Here it is from another angle, where you can see the provincial flags better:

In total there are 12 flags for the Dutch provinces and 1 flag for The Hague. In the background is the outside of the Binnenhof (English Wikipedia). It is currently closed for renovation. At the moment they are hoping to finishing the renovations by the end of 2026. We’ll see…

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A day to sell all of your stuff (Or: King’s Day)

So last time I talked about King’s Night, which is when you go to music festivals, drink overpriced beer, and dance like a maniac. Oh, and try to avoid being pickpocketed–apparently the police found a 13 year old and 20 year old with a bag full of 21 stolen telephones on King’s Day (article in Dutch over at omroepwest.nl). Sheesh.

In contrast, King’s Day itself is about selling cheap stuff. This is the one day a year it is legal for anyone to sell their old furniture, toys, books, you name it. Well, anything except food. Almost all cities ban that. I didn’t get any photos of these vrijmarkten (free markets) this year, but check out my post from way back in 2012 (!). Back when it was Queen’s Day, before she abdicated the throne and became Princess Beatrix. Marco took those photos for me since I was till living in America back then.

One thing I did get photos of was the flower sale at the Lange Voorhout. It was quite colorful, and not just because of the flowers:

These juichcapes (cheer capes) were sold by the grocery chain Jumbo last summer when there were a lot of high profile sporting events going on (Tour de France, Dutch Grand Prix, UEFA Euro Cup, etc.).

Lots of color here too!

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The Life I Live festival 2022 (Or: King’s Night in The Hague)

Tonight is the 10th anniversary of The Life I Live festival. Note: their website is definitely experiencing server capacity issues, so it is a bit hit or miss to visit it right now.

The last edition was of course in 2019. It is held in The Hague’s city centre, with musical acts spread out over about 8-10 stages. The opener this year was the Ukrainian band Go_A. Last year they participated in the Eurovision Song festival held in Rotterdam. This year the band got special permission from the Ukrainian government to travel to The Hague to perform (as technically Ukrainian men are not supposed to leave Ukraine right now).

This stage was at the Lange Voorhout not far from the Escher museum and Hotel Des Indes.

This smaller stage was on the opposite end of the Lange Voorhout, featuring the band Kuzko. I didn’t stay long, but they really brought the bass! It was a weird feeling to feel the bass after not going to any concerts the last two years.

King’s Night (and more accurately King’s Day) is a holiday to celebrate the birth of the Dutch King Willem Alexander who turns 55 tomorrow. The joke “Max komt misschien later…” is a joke that Max Verstappen, the 2021 F1 world champion, might stop by here later. Hmm.

(Man, I still remember when it was weird to see Willem Alexander with a beard!)

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Coming along nicely (Or: Amare cultural complex in The Hague)

Amare is the cultural complex that opened last year. Progress has also been made around the building, including the side. It actually looks pretty good now, which is important considering this area is the walkway between the central train station (behind this photo) and the city centre (ahead of this photo). For some months only a tiny sliver of walkway was open on the right side, about 5 feet across… Not fun when you have pedestrians and cyclists competing for the same space, let me tell you. Either way, we have come a long way from this graffiti-filled construction area two years ago.

Here is another look at the flowers in the front. You can still see some construction off on the right side, where they aren’t quite done yet.

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Easter weekend (Or: Everyone is out and about)

This is the first weekend where it has truly felt like “everything is back to normal”. For instance the festival Paaspop (“Easter pop”) was held this past weekend. Back in early 2020 it was the first large festival to be cancelled and now it is the first large festival to be held again. The outdoor terraces are also full as everyone has flocked outside to bake in the sun a bit. (In the Netherlands, most people get Easter Monday off.)

Speaking of outdoor terraces, Marco and I were just at a local Bagels & Beans to get some coffee and banana bread. The coffee was a mocchaccino to be more specific. How hipster of us. And the banana bread was made with walnuts and dark chocolate. Yum yum.

We also took a long walk around the city centre to soak up some more sun. Here is a look at the Hofvijver:

You can’t really tell in the above photo, but the area was very crowded with everyone having the same idea. There was also a market in the area as well.

I think this might have been the first day of the year that I went outside without a jacket on (although I find a long sleeve shirt to wear). Bring on the sun! ☀️

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New greenery in The Passage (Or: Down the middle)

A few weeks ago while in The Passage (official website, in English) I noticed some new plant life sprucing up the area.

This follows the “dividers” that were installed to help keep people on the right side of the path during corona times. Before that the walkways had always been bare with nothing in the middle.

Photo from 2021

I like it; it helps keep the area lively and vibrant. Although it might make it harder to walk through the area during the busiest moments of the day (usually it is a game of doge when moving around the slower walking tourists).

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Lazy days (Or: Random news from around The Hague)

It has been a while since I posted random news articles about what is happening here in The Hague and The Netherlands. So here is a collection of some of the news articles I have seen recently:

The Hague government wants to tear down half of the MegaStores complex and replace it with housing (omroepwest.nl – article in Dutch). Although at the moment it is just a plan versus anything that will actually happen. Affordable housing is all the rage these days, and for good reason. In the last 5 years the cost of buying a house has skyrocketed. For instance, the price of a buying house has risen 21% since January 2021 alone. See also cbs.nl (Department of Statistics, article in Dutch). MegaStores is a furniture mall, but at least half of the stores are empty these days, if not more. It really isn’t a place you would go to if you weren’t looking for furniture.

The Binnenhof, one of The Hague’s most recognizable tourist areas, will be closed as of 21 March for 5 years for renovation (omroepwest.nl, article in Dutch). I can’t imagine it will be closed for that long, but the buildings are in dire need of renovation so it makes sense. The fountain was already removed last month (also omroepwest.nl).

The fountain in the courtyard of the Binnenhof (photo from 2012!)

The Dutch cabinet is expected to drop all remaining corona measures from 23 March (dutchnews.nl, article in English). Not that there were many rules left to revoke. They are expected to revoke the face mask in public transportation rule, the rule that you need to take a test if you are attending an indoor event with more than 500 attendees and the rule that vaccinated travellers must take a Covid-19 test before entering The Netherlands. The advice to work from home at least half of the week will also be revoked. About the only thing that will be left is the basic guidelines (wash your hands, stay home if you are sick, ventilate) and the use of face masks in airplanes, as that is European law.

The Hague accidentally sent voting cards to about 1,500 Brits who weren’t eligible to vote this week from dutchnews.nl in English. A simple but silly mistake – British nationality was still listed as an EU nationality. After Brexit, British citizens have the same rules for voting as I do. You can only vote in the local elections if you have lived in The Netherlands for the last five years, uninterrupted.

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One big advertisement (Or: Disney+ in The Hague’s city centre)

As most big cities know, construction never ends. At the moment a building not far from the Binnenhof is getting work on done on its facade. (Right in that area is an Albert Heijn. You can just see the blue flags marking the entrance. Good luck getting around in that area to get inside.)

But where construction is, companies see opportunities:

A huge Disney+ advertisement spanning the entire building. At least it looks less unsightly than seeing bare scaffolding!

In other news:

  • The fireworks festival that is held in Scheveningen every year will be changed slightly this year, with fireworks being set off at four different locations along the coastline. You can read about it at denhaagfm.nl in Dutch. The fireworks would be set off at Zwarte Pad, the Pier, by the Keizerstraat and by the Pier. This should hopefully help spread the crowds out, a boon for restaurants in the area, although it will do nothing to solve the issues with public transportation (2018 article at denhaagcentraal.nl – check out the photo).
  • The pier in Scheveningen either needs to be completely replaced or repaired before 2025 (omroepwest.nl in Dutch). There are safety issues with the construction with the concrete under the pier and the floor. At the moment it seems that the most likely option is that the pier will be replaced, as repairing would actually cost more money.
Pier in 2017 (with the beach tents removed for the winter)
Inside the pier in 2017. My opinion: very narrow and very crowded.
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The Hague Info Store (Or: New store at The Hague Central)

A few months back the tourist information store (denhaag.com in English) moved from the ground floor of The Hague public library’s main branch to The Hague Central train station.

The tourist office now goes by the name “The Hague Info Store”. Oddly enough, they do also use (THIS) as an official acronym which I find a bit silly.

You can find the store around the corner from the playable piano. (Who knew there is a website which tracks publicly playable pianos throughout the world? See also pianos.pub/location/netherlands.)

They have a few Lego-like sets under the brand “Brickworld designs”.

The Hague specific souvenirs…

Dutch souvenirs.

You can also have a look at their webshop (souvenirdenhaag.nl, available in Dutch).

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